Marianna Paulson: Water Baby

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Who is Marianna?

Marianna Paulson lives in Surrey, British Columbia in Canada with her husband and their dog, Holly. Marianna has had RA since she was 19 years old. At that time, there weren’t any effective treatment for the disease and she was treated with aspirin. She has now finally found a medication that suppresses her RA.

Finding swimming

“I was a water baby. It was a Sunday thing to go to cabins and lakes with my parents and always headed straight for the water. I started competitive swimming lessons at 14 and became a lifeguard and swimming instructor within two years.” Marianna used these skills to earn money throughout her education. “I continued dabbling after becoming a teacher.” She eventually had to stop teaching because of her RA.

Swimming eases pain

“I used to windsurf, play racquetball, and ski. I can’t do that anymore. Swimming is something I know I can do for the rest of my life. I feel good when I’m able to the increase the distance I can swim. During the bad days, I’ve kept swimming. It helps to decrease my pain and maintains my mobility.’”

Year of surgeries

Marianna calls 2008 ‘The Year of the Surgeries.’ “I had a synovectomy on my elbow and forefoot reconstruction on both my feet. Before the surgeries on my feet, I had to have a fusion of the C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck.” Her surgeon insisted that this was necessary due to an RA-related instability in her neck that could be dangerous. “I had to wear a collar for 12 weeks. There wasn’t a lot of swimming that year.”

Managing stress

“I am a chronic worrier, there’s so much traffic in my head. I de-stress from exercise and discovered the Institute of Heart Math.” Marianna has combined their teachings on stress and her own experience with being a teacher, as well as her chronic illness and worrying to become Auntie Stress. She is committed to helping others live better by teaching them how to manage stress.

Snorkeling in Hawaii

“I love snorkeling and can still do that fairly easily. It reveals a whole new world, especially in tropical locations. There’s a sense of wonder and joy. I feel like a kid when I’m there, the weightlessness is so freeing. I had a goal to visit all the major Hawaiian islands and spent a lot of time in those warm tropical waters. My new goal is visiting the Caribbean islands.”

Enjoying nature

“Nature is such a de-stresser for me. When I go on my delta walks, I enjoy moving in my surroundings.” When you’re in pain, your focus is on your body, but by clamping down.” Marianna especially enjoys water. "After my lengths, I like to do some unwinding moves, imagining that I am as free as a dolphin.” She wants to help others focus on their bodies in a healthy way. “I like goofing around in water. We all need to play.”